Canadian Manufacturing

COVID-19 misery shows in record Ontario job losses; labour groups plead for fed help

Ontario's fiscal watchdog said 355,000 jobs disappeared, while another 765,000 people had work hours cut.

February 18, 2021  The Canadian Press

The misery inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic beyond its rising death toll was highlighted on Feb. 18 by a report showing record-setting job losses in the country’s largest province last year, with young people hit hardest.

As national labour groups appealed for more federal help, Ontario’s fiscal watchdog said 355,000 jobs disappeared, while another 765,000 people had work hours cut. Youth unemployment jumped to 22 per cent.

The job losses were the single largest annual decline on record, the Financial Accountability Office said.

Labour groups, noting many people still out of work and facing an end to emergency benefits, called on Ottawa to provide extra weeks of aid beyond the maximum 26. Latest federal data show the Canada Recovery Benefit has paid out $9.88 billion in the $500-a-week aid to more than 1.7 million people in the past four months.

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While Ontario reported another 44 pandemic-related deaths to bring its total to 6,773, health authorities in Ottawa had some potentially good news on the vaccination front.

Experts, they said, were looking at whether a single shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could be almost as good as giving the recommended two. Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, called the data compelling.

Those able to receive their shots in Manitoba can now access proof of vaccinations to carry with them. People can retrieve their information on a government website and print it out.

Manitoba said it was working toward the kind of formal vaccination cards available in British Columbia.

Anti-pandemic restrictions, which had slammed the airline industry, have prompted WestJet to again suspend numerous regional flights, including all service to St. John’s, N.L., London, Ont., Lloydminster, Alta. and Medicine Hat, Alta. The measures, effective next month, come after thousands of layoffs at Canadian airlines.